For many people, “boundaries” can be a confusing word. After all, aren’t you supposed to remove boundaries between you and your partner? Don’t you want them to be the first person you turn to for your emotional needs?
Absolutely! In fact, that’s the point. The boundaries are not meant to separate you and your spouse, but to protect and insulate your relationship from the rest of the world. Boundaries help you to create a “secure connection” between you and your partner that others are not allowed to enter into.
Let’s stick to the computer analogy for a bit. Computers are solid and can function easily once you know how to operate them. But even these solid structures have weaknesses. One virus or piece of malware can destroy the inner operations of the computer.
How do you prevent viruses from destroying your computer? You create a firewall.
How do you prevent infidelity, a lack of trust, or betrayal from destroying a relationship? You create boundaries. Lines that both of you agree you will not cross with other people.
But how can you know where your boundaries should be? Since we’re already talking about them, let’s start with computers.
Changing Boundaries in the Digital Landscape
Digital technology enables us to do amazing things. However, it can literally aid in crossing many of those boundaries you and your partner are likely to set up. How so?
Have you ever heard of an “e-motional affair?”
As relationship therapists, we see more and more couples come to us about this type of affair. What starts out as a friendly conversation with an old Facebook friend becomes something more. A boundary is broken, and all of a sudden, you become jealous of someone – even though your partner is “only” talking to them online!
These emotional (or e-motional) affairs don’t start out with bad intentions. We all need friends outside of our marriage – but you can put yourself on a slippery slope if you don’t have established boundaries when it comes to “venting” about your spouse or sharing personal stories. In fact, leaking details about our partnership to others is the main contemporary boundary violation.
And it’s even easier to cross these boundaries online where we may not feel the same pressure or fear to filter ourselves.
How Do You Know What Boundaries You Need?
Where do you go from here? The answer depends on what you and your partner are looking for in your relationship.
This question is not always easy to answer. But it sets the groundwork for crucial communication on what boundaries are necessary and how to set them.
The bottom line? Boundaries are vital to a healthy relationship.
But they can feel so complicated to navigate and establish. That’s why our book, Rock Solid Relationships, dives deeper into this subject and offers tips for establishing boundaries with different people in your life – and even how to repair boundaries after they have been broken.
Get your copy of our award-winning book here to begin establishing healthy, strong, and helpful boundaries.